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SMH Recruits World Leader in Robotic Surgery, Unveils Robot Optimized for Complex Cancers

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SARASOTA (Nov. 17, 2014)  – Eight years after introducing the first da Vinci robotic surgical system in the southwest Florida region, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System unveiled the next evolution in robotic surgery today.

The health system recruited a world leader in robotic surgery – Kenneth Meredith, MD, who is slated to join Sarasota Memorial’s robotic team next week – and today introduced the newly released da Vinci Xi, a robotic system specially equipped to help surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery for complex cancers and conditions.

“I’ve always been proud of our robotic surgery program and team – they are among the most advanced and experienced in the nation,” said Sarasota Memorial Chief of Staff James Fiorica, MD, a gynecological oncologist who specializes in robotic surgery and leads Sarasota Memorial’s women’s cancer program.

“But today our team is taking a technological leap forward because of the commitment and investment Sarasota Memorial is making in minimally invasive cancer care in our community.” With support from Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation Inc., Sarasota Memorial invested $1.4 million in its first surgical robot when the technology first proved beneficial to patients in 2006. Sarasota Memorial Hospital was the first in Florida and among the first in the nation to purchase the da Vinci-S system, an enhanced version of the original robot developed by Intuitive Surgical after clinical trials.

Today, Sarasota Memorial leads Southwest Florida with four da Vinci robots and robotic surgical suites and more than two dozen experienced robotic surgeons who have performed more than 3,750 advanced robotic procedures in an ever-expanding range of specialties –cardiovascular, thoracic, urology, gynecology, oncology and general surgery. Sarasota Memorial’s robotic program is the largest and most experienced in southwest Florida, according to Intuitive Surgical. Sarasota Memorial recruited Meredith from the University of Wisconsin to lead its gastrointestinal oncology program and further expand its robotic capabilities. He is a nationally recognized robotic gastrointestinal oncology surgeon specializing in microsurgery for gastrointestinal, gallbladder, liver and thoracic cancer and conditions. He has performed more robotic esophageal surgeries than anyone else in the world and ranks in the top three for the highest volume of robotic pancreatic surgeries worldwide.

Board certified gastrointestinal surgeon Kenneth Meredith, MD
Board certified gastrointestinal surgeon Kenneth Meredith, MD, shares some of the advances features in the newly released da Vinci Xi to a gathering of hospital administrators, hospital board members, doctors, staff and members of the media at its unveiling on Monday. The newest version of the robot is specially equipped to help surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery for complex cancers and conditions. Dr. Meredith will serve as the Medical Director of Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncology at Sarasota Memorial.

da Vinci Xi 
Sarasota County Public Hospital Board Member Dick Merritt and Board Chair Marguerite Malone, Ed.D, watch the da Vinci Xi robotic arms at work. In the background, Sarasota Oncologist Rick Brown, MD, watches Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder as he takes the controls at the da Vinci console and gives it a test drive.

Those kinds of volumes, coupled with the expertise and experience of Sarasota Memorial’s team translate to safer, better outcomes for patients.

“The da Vinci is an amazing machine, but it doesn't operate itself. It takes a specialized team of highly skilled people working together as a cohesive unit to produce quality results,” Meredith said.

Sarasota Memorial is the first hospital on Florida’s Gulf Coast to purchase the da Vinci Xi. Like previous generations, the system allows surgeons to maneuver surgical tools inside the body through small, keyhole size incisions, and perform tiny, precise procedures not possible with the human hand alone.

But the Xi’s broader capabilities – which include better visualization and positioning of the instruments in hard to reach areas of the body – optimize it for more complex conditions and cancers.

“Each generation of the robot improves and extends the surgeon’s reach, vision and precision, so that now we can access areas within the body, safely, from almost any position,” Meredith said. “With the Xi, we can now operate on those hard to reach area and complex cancers previously accessible only through more invasive, open surgery.”

About Dr. Meredith: Kenneth Meredith, MD, is a board certified gastrointestinal surgeon, fellowship trained in surgical oncology from the Moffitt Cancer Center. His clinical subspecialties include minimally invasive removal of malignancies of the pancreas, liver, biliary tract, and esophagus. He will serve as the Medical Director of Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncology at Sarasota Memorial. Meredith completed his medical degree at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY, his internship at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center, Lexington, KY, and his residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, WI. Before joining Sarasota Memorial’s First Physicians Group, Meredith served as Associate Professor, Chief of Minimally Invasive Surgical Oncology and Director of Robotic Surgery at the University of Wisconsin, and Director of Robotic Surgery at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, in Madison, WI. Previously, he served as Director of Esophageal and Gastric Cancer Research and section head of Esophagogastric Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center.

About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System: Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of inpatient, outpatient and extended care services, with more than 800 physicians, 4,000 employees and 800,000 patient visits a year. Sarasota Memorial’s 806-bed acute care hospital has been recognized repeatedly as one of the nation’s best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services– from urgent care centers and physician groups, to laboratory and imaging centers, home health, rehabilitation and long-term care.

Additional coverage from local media:

SRQ Daily  |  ABC-7  |  WTSP Ch.10  |  SNN 6  |  Sarasota Herald Tribune  |  Bradenton Herald  |  Sun Newspapers

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